We Are the Last Generation
Badiucao's Art for Freedom of Speech
China's youth is calling themselves the "Last Generation". The politics of multi-generational punishment is still present and can control individuals as well as families. The covid-zero policies implemented by the authorities became a threat that fuels anger. If one refuses to follow them, their families can be affected. In May 2022 a young man was threatened by the police with punishment for 3 generations of his family. "I'm sorry, we are the last generation," he replied. The video recording of this incident went viral instantly and his line became a slogan on social media platforms.
It soon became clear that this generation has different priorities: many want to leave the country and many do not want to get married or have children. At the moment, the fertility rate is 1.3, lower than countries like Japan. The dream of eternal growth becomes an illusion. In China, not having children was considered a curse in the past, however, right now it is a common mindset. They have been deprived of a desirable future. Climate change, lack of hope for the future and intergenerational gap are all parts of the decline in births.
Badiucao´s art looks at this challenge and tries to turn the frustration into criticism as well as into hope. The selected artworks are pressuring us to imagine a better future. Freedom of speech is absent in Chinese politics and we are a part of this guilty silence. By using a brush, Badiucao is raising his voice and asking us not to forget about what happened and what is still going on in the countries of Asian tigers. Badiucao is committed to support movements such as the Hong Kong protesters and the campaign against the cultural repressions of Uyghurs. He is aware of the urgency to redefine the historical trauma of the People's Republic of China, a country devoted to censorship of the truth.
Badiucao is presenting his political art in the European Parliament, a place of decisions. “My exhibition in the European Parliament highlights the Chinese threat to free speech in the European Union. It portrays the human rights violations including the covid-zero policies as well as the Uyghur genocide. It is important to show the brave resistance inside China through my art. For me, every exhibition is a rare opportunity and a challenge due to the constant censorship from the Chinese government.” Art can make us look beyond the lies and listen to the unheard communities represented by Badiucao´s works.
The installation called This Is Why They Buy Our Baby Formula reminds us that the powerful view us as if we were dust. The artpiece Tiananmen Massacre Watch examines the attempt of complete removal of history by the ones in power. These valuable watches were a gift from the Chinese government to the soldiers who participated in the Tiananmen Massacre in Beijing. A collector sent the original watch to the artist as a piece of remembrance of the tragic event. During the art performance Forgotten, he erases a detailed monumental drawing which portrays a famous tragic photograph. It is not only questioning the idea of beauty and preservation, but it mainly challenges the idea of time. The idea of daisein - expressed by Heidegger and reinterpreted by Hanna Arendt.
Curated by Elettra Stamboulis
Organizer: MEP Markéta Gregorová
Co-rganizers: Vice-President of the EP Pina Picierno, MEP Mikuláš Peksa, MEP Michaela Šojdrová
Special thanks: DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Sinopsis (loga)